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Canine Survivor, Family Reunited

Amy Collins, Ginger the dog, and Theresa Monnard
CBS/The Early Show
A Dalmatian who epitomizes the will to survive has been reunited with the Oklahoma family she left six years ago. Since wandering off, Ginger, also known as Muff, was faced with one challenge after another.

Amy Collins tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith that Ginger "disappeared a couple of days before the May 3 tornado in 1999. And my husband and I thought, you know, maybe she had just been displaced and maybe was trying to find her way back home…and then, with the tornado hitting, she never was able to get back to us."

Enter RockySpot Dalmatian Rescue, whose president, Theresa Monnard, tells Smith, "We pulled her from the Oklahoma City animal welfare division right after the tornado."

And just in time: Ginger would have been put to sleep only days later. That lucky break was the first of many for a dog that faced more challenges than the contestants on a season of "Survivor."

The relationship with RockySpot, says Monnard, proved fateful: "She (came to us) in the beginning. We were formed in 2000, right after the tornado. A lot of our contracts and our stipulations and stuff now that we have in effect for our dogs, the home visits and rescue checks, are a direct result of the homes Ginger's been in."

That's because Ginger "had a rough life" in the homes in which she was placed by RockySpot, Monnard points out. "The first home, she was hit by a car and had a pin put in her leg. The second home, she was abandoned in the backyard and left without food, water or shelter. And in the third home, actually she got shot and was attacked by a pit bull."

But Ginger didn't succumb.

And recently, Collins says, "My mom and sister actually were on (online) on a Saturday afternoon. My mom called me on the phone and she said, 'I think Muffs is on this Web site.' My heart instantly sank. I thought, there is no way this dog could be turning up after this much time."

But, Collins continued, "I had a feeling it was her when I saw her pictures, because she has distinct markings. When we pulled up at the shelter, her reaction to us, it was pretty much certain that she was our dog."

And the reunion was very emotional, Collins says.